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NHS equal pay battle close to £300m pay out

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Unison has brokered an equal pay deal that looks likely to pay out £300m to 1,500 female NHS health workers in back pay.

The women who worked for North Cumbria Acute NHS Trust have been fighting their equal pay case for eight years.

The claims were lodged in August 1997 for 14 different jobs, using five different male comparators.

The women range from nurses to catering assistants, domestics, clerical officers, sewing machine assistants, porters and telephonists. They compared their pay with that of craftsmen/joiners, building labourers/wall washers, works officers, craftsmen supervisors and maintenance assistants.

The claimants who are expected to be awarded between £35,000 and £200,000 can recover up to six years of back-dated pay.

Unison general secretary, Dave Prentis, said:

“This demonstrates what we have always argued, that there has been historic widespread pay discrimination in the health service against women. It’s dreadful, though, that it has taken so long to get justice for these hard-working women who hold the health service together.”

Prentis praised the new pay system, Agenda for Change, for ‘remedying’ discrimination in the NHS and warned that other health workers could be sending in their claims for back pay in the near future.

Unison member, Christine Wharrier who has worked at West Cumbria hospital for 28 years as a health care assistant declared the case a victory for women across the NHS:

“Discrimination runs deep in the NHS, especially for part-timers, who are mainly women workers. This win will be a boon for ancillary staff because they are on really low pay and I could jump up and down for them – it’s wonderful.”

HRZone has today reported findings from an Equal Opportunities Commission survey that reveals the extent of discrimination that part-timers, who are mainly women experience.

According to the EOC, the seventy-eight per cent of Britain’s part-time workers who are female earn an average 40% less per hour than male full-time workers.

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Annie Hayes

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